Slow swim CV | 80/20 Endurance

Slow swim CV

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    I have a question regarding setting up of swim zones. I’m a BOP swimmer and recently recorded a CV that works out to be 2:54/100m. At Zone 1 I have to swim much slower ~3:30/100m and I couldn’t achieve it without decreasing my stroke rate and subsequently losing my form. This seems contradictory as I read that I should be using tools like a tempo metronome to improve my stroke rate.

    Also, should I be doing shorter intervals as I also noticed that I struggled to keep my form anything above 200m.

    Any advice please? Thanks!


    Great question. I don’t tend to pay attention to heart rate for swimming, but rather perceived exertion and pace-paced zones. If you loose your form, that will result in you both slowing down and also working at a higher exertion because you are working to overcome your form. What I suggest is introducing a pull buoy into your workouts when you are working the lower zones. It does a few things for you: 1) It mimics the experience of being in a wetsuit with buoyancy under your legs. 2) It will help improve your form and mimimize the drag in the water. 3) It will therefore allow you to twin at a lower perceived exertion, therefore lower heart rate, lower zone. My CV is around 2:15, but with the pull I can comfortably do Z1 at this pace and then if I push my pace, I can do Z3 at 2:00. The range of paces for the zones in the swim will be quite narrow, but you’ll see huge improvement with a focus on good form. And even a Z3/4 swim will not be nearly as taxing as a similar run or bike so you can accomplish quite a lot during the off-season on your aerobic system through swimming. Another tip is to alternate with breast stroke during your warm-up and cool down. It’s a slower paced stroke, but a good one to master if the swim is anxiety provoking. You can always use breast stroke to get your bearings, site, and navigate buoys.

    David Warden

    wachoo, fastmazor is right, you can use fins, pull buoy, to maintain enough speed to stay afloat and rely on perceived effort instead of Pace to stay in Zone 1.

    Also, no reason you can’t make 200M you upper limit for now. Even when we call for 300, 400, 500, just take a break at 200M, recover, and do 200 more.


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